Monday, January 31, 2011

On more cuteness--because there will always be more cuteness

Okay, so commenter B says: “But now you have used up all your saved cutesy links. What will you post tomorrow?”


On the state of our union

Okay, so I have a breakdown and/or analysis of Tuesday's State of the Union on the way, but one thing already sticks in my mind: That speech is so much less fun when you know there won't be any references to human-animal hybrids.

Thom Yorke/Talib Kweli - The State of the Union

And as a note--just because our current president isn't a babbling numbskull in the style of our last president doesn't make the Wounded Warrior Project any less in need of support. Any suggestions for a Barack Obama-themed SOTU drinking game are very much welcomed.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On rhetoric and romanticised revolution

Or, But Words Can Never Hurt Me

Okay, so I'm sure you know that Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot, along with 18 other people, at a neighborhood meeting in Tucson. The shooter was a scattered, rambling, unsettling anti-government type; the victims included a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge who died while shielding a man with his own body.

When a tragedy like that takes place, the immediate instinct is to figure out why, God, why it happened--and it's a reasonable one. This tragedy had an easy focus: Sarah Palin's PAC had posted a map online pointing out Democrats who had supported Obama's health care reform bill. Each was marked with crosshairs; Palin introduced the map by saying, "Don't retreat, instead--RELOAD!"

That a woman targeted with crosshairs should end up shot is horrible but more ironic than suspicious; we have no reason to believe that Jared Lee Loughner was trying to follow Palin's instructions when he went after Giffords. But at the same time, it's significant--while Palin's map may not have been the instigator of this act, it definitely contributed to a growing culture of violent imagery and threatening political rhetoric.

Regardless of the Tea Partiers' own culpability for such rhetoric, it's easy to start with them. They're the ones who adopted the imagery of the American Revolution, which was a violent protest that went far beyond the dumping of tea into a harbor to actual and extensive bloodshed. In a time when objections to things like taxes are generally bloodless and handled by men in suits, Tea Partiers play the role of oppressed colonials who can only accomplish their goals at the business end of a rifle. In the hands of a Revolutionary War re-enactor, that's quaint; in the hands of an unorganized and impassioned crowd scattered across the nation, feeding each other's fervor and whipping themselves into a self-righteous frenzy, it's dangerous.

Monday, January 24, 2011

On a visit to the warehouse: Aww, Munchkin edition

Okay, so I want you to know that even during my unintentional and oh-so-brief blogging hiatus, I was still thinking of y'all every day. I have all these links that I've filed away as something that I need to blog about, and now I have… a whole bunch of outdated links. (Wah-waaah.)

But they're still awesome! So here's your first link dump, featuring every cute thing that's happened in forever.

Gawker: Black Bear Feasts Inside Home, Rescues Stuffed Bear On Way Out
A black bear on Tuesday walked into a New Hampshire home, ate two pears, some grapes, took a sip from a fishbowl and grabbed a stuffed bear on the way out of the house. The stuffed bear was later recovered.
"Don't fear, my glossy-eyed compatriot! We're making it out of here together!"

Jezebel: Adorable Marines Rescue Adorable Kittens In Afghanistan; Cuddling Ensues
Brian Chambers, Chris Berry and Aaron Shaw have adopted kittens they found while on duty - and sent them back to the States to wait for them with the marines' families (with the aid of these groups.) Says Chambers, "At only 3 weeks old, their mother had disappeared and they were left alone to live rough and fend for themselves like the other cats in this area. We looked after them both and they lived in a box in the office, after a week they were allowed to roam around during the day and sleep with us in the hooch at night."
PFC Fluffy McCuddlepants, reporting for duty! (Kitteny salute)

On Mashup Monday: Miracles edition

No, not that kind. Actual miracles.

Okay, so this is so cool to me that I feel like I should save it for a special occasion, but it's also so cool to me that I couldn't not share it. So here's something inspirational for the ultimate Mashup Monday.

Norwegian Recycling/Everyone ever - Miracles

Friday, January 21, 2011

On the Good, the Bad, and the Friday Random Ten

Okay, so I've been trying to come up with something witty, topical, and timely to head up this week's TGTBATFRT, and I've come to the conclusion that I got nothin'. I did try, though. Like, hard.

Sooo... how 'bout those Trekkies, or whatever? Right?

What's good (for the week ending 1/21):

- memories of a Mexican beach vacation to stave off the cold. And if you were my friend on Facebook, you'd know all about it. And if you knew all about it, you'd hate me forever, so it's probably best that things are as they are.

- new hotness. I'm cranking this baby out on a new MacBook Pro, and I gotta tell you, it's a thing of beauty. It's so shiny. And it's got a bomb-ass processor and a beefy hard drive. And it's shiny.

- new glasses. It might not seem like a huge thing, but when you've been wearing the same pair of glasses you've had since college, getting a pair that has the proper prescription and fits your face is a lovely thing. (I have been getting my contacts taken care of regularly, kthx.) They're a little bit naughty-librarian and a little bit put-my-hair-in-a-ponytail-and-wait-for-the-captain-of-the-football-team-to-ask-me-to-prom-on-a-bet. I'm calling it a good thing.

- being back on the job. It's nice to get back to the blog, even if I'm still not doing it at the rate I've been meaning to. Thanks to all of my reader who's nagged me about it.

- Clairol Perfect 10 Hair Color in Auburn Flash

What's bad:

- the Tea Partiers. I know, it's a really awful thing for me to say as a liberal and a more-or-less-moderate, and I'm supposed to… do something, I don't know, but I'm tired of them. In the beginning, it was kind of cool, at least in concept--I've never really followed them on their politics, but I liked their spunk. Now, it's completely misguided, and suddenly a bunch of old white guys are running around waving Obama signs with Hitler mustaches and blurting out idiotic Glenn Beck talking points every time a camera points at them. The whole thing in Tennessee is only the most recent example--guys, if you're going to name yourselves after a vehement and dramatic protest against unfair taxation, you need to try to stay at least a little bit on-message to not sound like some wandering kook with a committee. Or if you're going to back this particular horse, call yourselves the Revisionist Historians or something.

- My. Big. Redneck. Wedding. Great. Because our fumbling governor and ban on sex toys and bingo haven't made us look dumb enough already.

The Ten:

1. Ramsey Lewis, "Do What You Wanna (Mr. Scruff's Soul Party Mix)"
2. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, "Andante" (from Violin Concerto in D major)
3. Dean Fields, "Irish Bars"
4. Heather Nova, "Paper Cup"
5. Chicane, "No Ordinary Morning"
6. Giuseppe Verdi, "Libiamo" (from La Traviata)
7. Dirty Vegas, "7 AM"
8. Billy Idol, "Hot in the City"
9. Linkin Park, "Figure.09"
10. Frank Sinatra, "The Lady is a Tramp" (with Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.)

Your opinions on stuff, and things, and your Tens go in comments.

On Mom's basement: the final frontier

Okay, so a little bit of week-wrapping-up levity comes in the form of a deeply offensive news article that requires a tremendously sincere apology. Because if there's one thing you absolutely don't want to do, it's piss off Trekkies.
It's the owners' manual that any self-respecting starship engineer in the year 2151 wouldn't be seen without.

Haynes, whose iconic range of automobile user manuals help teens and devotees alike keep their cars on the road 10 year after it is sensible to do so, have published a DIY guide to the most famous space voyager of them all.

The 160-page guide covers the entire range of USS
Enterprise models, from Captain Jonathan Archer's original NX-01 from the most recent series through to the NCC-1701 under the control of Captain Kirk and her replacement, the NCC-1701-E.

Think Trekkers out there would welcome such a clever and topical Trek treat? FUCK YOU, YOU'RE WRONG.
Your Mom's Lunch
OMG, could this article be any more wrong. The Enterprise-E did not replace Kirks enterprise. The excelsior class Enterprise-B replaced kirks ship after Kirks ship was lost at the Genesis plant at the hands of the klingons. Upon their return to McKinley station after traveling back in time to get some whales…
[tl;dr -Ed.] …This ship was lost at the aforementioned viridian star system. Then….came the enterprise-E. This article wreaks of failure.


On the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of man (and woman)

Okay, so some people take weeks to screw things up at their job. New Alabama governor Robert Bentley managed to do it in about four minutes. In a speech at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church, on Martin Luther King Day, he let all non-Christian Alabamians know exactly where they can get off.
"There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit," Bentley said. "But if you have been adopted in God's family like I have, and like you have if you're a Christian and if you're saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister."

Bentley added, "Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."

What the fuck? (Sorry, Jesus.)

Practically Harmless regular B has made a valid point: "Like I want to be his sister…" And I recognize that in the Deep South, winning souls for Christ is practically a contact sport and Bentley sincerely is concerned for our salvation. But I can't not take a little bit of umbrage here, not because I'm worried about my own soul or my own treatment at the hands of the administration but because he's the governor. He was just after pledging to be the "governor of all the people" and "color blind," and then he had to delineate who is and who is not his brother.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

On obscuring the truth about history

Okay, so the state of Tennessee has had a rather rough relationship with the educational system going way back. (History buffs may remember a certain trial about a certain teacher and intimations about a certain primate.) Well, they're back, and this time it's social studies they're after.
A coalition of Tennessee Tea Party groups has formulated a list of "demands" focused on the state's educational curriculum and political agenda that they want the state's legislature to heed this session.

Hal Rounds, spokesman for the group, recently claimed at a news conference that there was "an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the Founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another."

Now, I'm not sure exactly what Hal is getting at here. If it's his contention that it's the criticism that's made up, well, there's plenty of very real criticism out there on those subjects. And if it's those specific claims that he says are made up--the displacement of Native Americans, slavery--there's pretty good evidence for those things, too.

I'm not saying that the Founding Fathers were all bad. Our very country exists because of their role in our independence from Great Britain. Our system of government (humanly flawed though it may be) is due to their hard work (and some strategic borrowing of ideas, which is how these things get made). Said Fathers even made significant contributions to concepts of human rights and liberties that we still reference today--think about Thomas Jefferson's writings on the separation of church and state and James Madison's on immigration. On the whole, they were stand-up guys who made a lot of hard decisions during a hard time, and much of it has turned out well.

Monday, January 17, 2011

On Mashup Monday; Quasi-Triumphant Return edition

Okay, so I just got back--just got back--from an open-mic night at a really fun new-ish venue here in town, and the only thing that still sticks in my mind is that during one song, a friend of a friend leaned over and started singing "Smooth Operator" into my ear. And it was. It totally was. For the rest of the song, I kept expecting the guy to bust out with, "Coast to coast, L.A. to Chicago..." Later, said FoF noted that that's one of the worst things that can happen to a songwriter--you're up on stage, and halfway through the song you realize you're actually singing someone else's song. At that point, all you can really do is segue into the other song, pretend it's an homage, and then go back to what you were singing. I don't think this guy realized he'd borrowed from Sade, but I'll never forget it.

Anyway, that's why Sade (via Señor Coconut) is sharing screen time with Vanilla Ice. And God bless them both.

Vanilla Ice/Sade - Smooth Operator

My contention is that, in the end, the common musical denominator is "Smells Like Teen Spirit," but that will take further research.

Friday, January 14, 2011

On the Good, the Bad, and the Friday Random Ten

Okay, so this past weekend was beautifully icy. I know a lot of people don't feel that way--say, homeless people, first-responders, and that dickwipe who kept bitching because his charter flight out to Arizona for the game (ooh, dude, you've impressed me…) might not take off--but I always love to put on my blue, fleecy comfy pants, pull a dog over my feet, and drink a cup of cocoa whilst being glad I don't have anywhere to be. So that's one of the things falling under the category of

What's good (for the week ending 1/14):

- Snow. Or "snice," at least (which makes me think of smizing, which I suppose I was doing at the sight of all the snice). Even though it wasn't the fluffy awesomeness of real snow, it still made for snow falling from the sky and cold, white stuff all over the ground. Not really good for sledding (which is a shame, because we live at the top of one hell of a hill), but Dave seemed to find it acceptable.

- Getting a day off. Being so far south, Birmingham happens to be completely unprepared for things like snice, and so the city shut down most of Sunday and all of Monday. We were prepared, of course, with propane for the grill and ingredients for French toast (which is, I assume, why people always snap up bread and milk in preparation for a storm). Stew was made (not from the bread or milk). And as I remained snicebound on Tuesday (see below), I got another day working from home.

- A sense of satisfaction in a job well done. Whether it's seeing something I wrote go through editing unchanged or shaking hands with a client as she gushes about the work you've done, that is the ultimate and undeniable shit, and I will clutch this feeling to my bosom and nurture it like a baby bird.

- French toast by the fire while the dog sleeps, the cat snores, the flurries flurry, and idiot drivers slide up and down the hill outside our window.

- Maybelline Color Sensational Lipgloss in Sugared Honey

What's bad:

- Getting stuck at home. One of the problems with icy roads is that those which can be traversed by a four-wheel-drive truck (which we happen to have) are unmanageable on two wheels. As mentioned, this got me a free day of working at home on Tuesday, but it's also left me dependent on The Boy for transportation until all the ice is melted (which will probably be by this weekend, thankfully).

- Being a freaking Ophiucus. What the eff is an Ophiucus? Can someone tell me the personality traits of an Ophiucus? 'Cause if they include wondering what the eff an Ophiucus is, they're right on.

(Wait, it's the "snake bearer"? Okay, that's kind of cool.)

The Ten:

1. Queen, "I Want to Break Free"
2. John Coltrane Quartet, "Acknowledgement"
3. Paul Oakenfold, "Ready Steady Go"
4. Michael Bublé, "Dream A Little Dream Of Me"
5. Sarah Vaughan, "Misty"
6. Darren Hayes, "Unlovable"
7. Hector Berlioz, "Au cimetière" (from Les nuits d'été)
8. Dave Matthews Band, "Rhyme & Reason"
9. Johnny Cash, "I Walk the Line"
10. Glasvegas, "Geraldine"

How about you? Where's the worst place you've ever been trapped by weather? (Easy: Toronto, 2008, and I still haven't gotten the smell of the arrivals lounge out of my nose.) That and your Ten, go in comments.

On a little bit of hope

Okay, so I was trying to figure out some kind of context or commentary for this, and I couldn't, so… this.

Giffords Eye Opens as Pelosi, Dem Colleagues Look On (VIDEO)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On the dawning of the Age of Capricorn

Okay, so what's funny about this? I'll give you a hint: It's not the fact that ostensibly reasonable people are freaking out at the mere mention of a change in Zodiac signs.
The popular astrologer Susan Miller called the news "ridiculous." In an interview with ABC News, she said, "We've known about this for ages. The constellations don't suggest what's coming up, it's the planets! The constellations are a measuring device."

Jesus Christ, people! They're a measuring device! God, why am I the only person in this whole damn article who understands the science of astrology?

I need my own show.

On the end of civility

Okay, so it's not huge, but it's kind of depressing in an emblematic way--the Civility Project has folded after two years and three responses out of 585 letters.

Mark DeMoss (Republican, evangelical Christian) and Lanny Davis (Democrat, Jewish, former Clinton lobbyist) sent out 585 letters, one each to every sitting governor and member of Congress. The 585 were asked to sign the following hideous, spiteful, degrading pledge:
I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.

I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.

I will stand against incivility when I see it.


The three complete bastards--out of 585--who dared put their names to such a travesty were Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Rep. Frank Wolfe (R-VA), and Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC).

DeMoss and Davis didn’t get any responses from any other governors or Congresspeople, but they did get a few e-mails from the common man.
The gutless republicans do not need more gutless wonders like you in the rhino party. You remind me of someone that would bring a rock or knife to a gun fight. The thugs, communists, racists, bigots, liars, nazis, and America hating sons of b------ in the democrat party are scum of the Earth and will do anything to win. I believe you have been watching to many old movies where the good guy always win. Vince Lombardi put it best. Winning is not everything, it is the only thing.

Grow up - this is real life and when the socialist want to take over a free country, people like me are not civil and if the Obama socialists aren’t stopped soon by elections, the next step is violent revolution - it’s how our free country was born. You people are morons.

At the risk of sounding uncivil, what the freaking fuck?!

On a weird kind of pharmacist power

Okay, so I've brought up the issue of conscience clauses a couple of times before, and the answer has always come out the same: a big, fat chunk of I Don't Know. I'd hate to personally be forced to do something to which I had serious moral objections, but at the same time, isn't there a point at which you have to stop judging and do your job? Particularly when you're in a medical field--your choice to go with your conscience may actually result in someone's death. Whether you're a pharmacist refusing to fill a birth control prescription or a hospital willing to let a woman die rather than provide a treatment that violates their Catholic charter, you're putting your own moral reservations up against a woman's physical well-being and a physician's educated and deeply considered orders.

That's a lot of power, particularly for someone whose white coat spends most of its time behind the pharmacy counter at Walgreens. And it's a lot of responsibility. A pharmacist in Idaho, for instance, had the responsibility of filling a prescription for Methergine, a drug used to prevent or control bleeding of the uterus following childbirth or abortion. She decided not to, because the NP calling it in wouldn't tell her if the patient had had an abortion.

Now, let's be clear: The medicine in question could potentially save a woman from bleeding until she died--but the pharmacist wouldn't dispense it unless she knew the woman was moral enough to be worth saving.

The NP was, of course, prevented by HIPAA to tell a Walgreens pharmacist what had happened behind the closed doors of a doctor's office, and so the prescription was refused. And when the NP asked for a referral to a pharmacy that would fill it, the pharmacist hung up on her.

This is the discussion. This is the bright-line test for conscience clauses. If we are going to decide that a person's right to their own conscience should be honored above all things, how far are we willing to go with it? Is a medical professional required to help someone who will die? What about someone who will probably die? What about someone who will at the very least end up in the hospital if they aren't given the appropriate treatment?

And if the pharmacist is being asked to dispense medicine after the objectionable act has already taken place, isn't she just using her power to punish the patient? What conscience clause allows that?

Friday, January 07, 2011

On the triumphant return (again) of the Good, the Bad, and the Friday Random Ten

Okay, so we’re just on the far end of Christmas, and I both a) had a fantastic holiday, and b) was oddly glad to see the back end of it. Not whew-I’m-back-at-the-office glad, but at least whew-I’m-glad-to-be-back-in-pajama-pants-on-the-couch glad. In general, I try to keep my vacations short enough that I’m not ready to leave when it’s time to go, but I think I’m at the point in life where the winter holidays don’t really qualify as a vacation anymore. Sigh. Being a grownup sucks. I think I’ll stop doing it.

Things that don’t suck, though, in the form of a very special post-holiday

What’s good (for the whatever period of time ending 1/7):

- The Nook Color. This was one of my favorite Birthmas presents. Now that I have a single device to read a thousand books, listen to music, do crossword puzzles, and dick around on the Internet, I have no reason to leave my living room. (And as soon as they come out with a word processing app for it, I probably won’t leave the couch.)

- GoGo Gear. Not gear for go-go dancing, alas, but still cool. It’s protective scootering gear that looks like (really cute) regular clothes. This was another Birthmas gift. (Check out the site for a video of the founder throwing herself down a hill to demonstrate the effectiveness of the gear.)

- My 30th birthday. No, I’m totally lying; it sucked. I always said I wouldn’t be one to freak out about a number--and I almost wasn’t--but it was six months to the day before the event itself that I did, in fact, start freaking out. (Who knew?) I was teased for clinging to 29 like a piece of driftwood from the Titanic until the very last moment, although I like to think I accepted 30 gracefully when it became unavoidable. Still, it’s odd to think that my 20s are closed. (See below for the story of my 20s driving out of my front yard with a stranger behind the wheel.)

- A bangin’ ride. Through luck, friend-pricing, and machinations I still don’t entirely understand, The Boy managed to pick up a brand-new Toyota Tundra while we were down in Mobile. Normally I’m not a pickup person, but even I have to admit it’s pretty pimp: It’s the dealership’s show model, so it’s got a lift kit and fender flares and big tires and shiny wheels and flex fuel and Bluetooth everything and it’s about eleven feet tall and I need a spiraling library staircase to get in. It’s pretty okay.

- Being surrounded by friends on New Year’s Eve, and having someone worth kissing. And swilling lots of excellent champagne.

What’s bad:

- A white Christmas. Normally something I dream of, this white Christmas sucked ass because I wasn’t there to see it. The snow started in Birmingham on Christmas Day while we were waking up in Columbus, it continued in Birmingham while we were driving through passive-aggressive drizzles to The Boy’s family in Mobile, and it disappeared completely in Birmingham while we were driving home on Monday. My snow experience took place entirely from the wrong end of the Weather Channel. Fuck you, white Christmas.

- The end of an era. The aforementioned monster truck came at the expense of my darling 2001 Cabrio, Bonnie Blue. She’d been sitting in front of the house for too long, rarely getting driven, particularly in the zippy, borderline-dangerous way she deserves. So it made sense to trade her in toward a vehicle that would actually get driven, at the same giving her to a new driver who can appreciate her the way I did.

Bonnie Blue has been my constant companion for a decade now. I got her for my 20th birthday (my uncle tells the story of how I jumped this high), and she was with me through the rest of college, an engagement and un-engagement, eight moves, two jobs, a dog, a house, the happiest relationship imaginable, and numerous bad and good decisions and haircuts. It seems poetic that she now has left me around the time of my 30th birthday. It was comforting to me that the grandfatherly type from the dealership who picked her up expressed interest in buying her himself. Whether he pretties her up for his own use or hands her off to a granddaughter, it’s nice to know that she’ll have a good home. And maybe she’ll give some other young woman another ten meaningful years.

And yeah, I cried when she left.

The end-of-holiday Ten:

1. Londonderry Boys Choir, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”
2. Frank Sinatra, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”
3. Mormon Tabernacle Choir, “Carol of the Birds”
4. Otis Redding, “White Christmas” (Oh, screw you, Otis.)*
5. St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”
6. Darlene Love, “All Alone on Christmas”
7. Dean Martin, “Winter Wonderland”
8. Diana Krall, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve”
9. Nat “King” Cole, “The Christmas Song”
10. Mormon Tabernacle Choir, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

Who’s your life-changing car? Or other life-changing inanimate object, for that matter (not that Bonnie Blue was inanimate, because she was obviously sentient, or else I wouldn’t have developed such an emotional relationship with her). Your stories, and your Tens, go in comments.

*Oh, Otis, I can’t stay mad at you.

On a very sad man

Okay, so I mentioned on Tuesday (although you almost certainly knew about it long before I got around to posting that post) that Congress has finally gotten around to repealing that confounding piece of legislation known as Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I also, in that post, expressed my opinion that this is one of the best signs we've gotten in a long time that the country is starting to really discover its values.

Who disagrees with me? John McCain does.
"Today is a very sad day."

A very sad day? We're supposed to be very sad? Maybe you're concerned about it. Maybe you're worried. Maybe you're disappointed. But very sad? This isn't a tragedy. Sad days are when deeply held values are abandoned. Sad days are when people are hurt. But your argument was never about values or the morality of homosexuality. Your argument was about effectiveness. You said your "opinion is shaped by the leaders of the military."

Well, guess what, Mr. Senator: The leaders of the military have spoken, they've expressed their feelings that our troops can serve effectively side-by-side with openly gay compatriots, and your colleagues have listened to them and repealed an unfair law. But something about that makes you sad.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff supports repeal. The service chiefs say the military can do it, even Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Amos, who has been the most averse of all the joint chiefs to the repeal. If you're concerned about its effect on unit cohesion--that it will be "distracting"--that's something to worry about, not weep over. But maybe you've got other thoughts you haven't brought up in this debate, thoughts that make it a tragedy instead of merely a cause for concern. I'd be interested in knowing what makes you so very sad about this day.

President Obama seems to have more faith in our troops to handle this properly.
The president said, moments after the vote, "As commander in chief, I am absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known."

Remember the times you've said our troops are some of the best trained and most professional we've ever had. Remember the military leaders, pro- and anti-repeal, who've said that they can make it work. Remember the troops themselves, who've said that it's not a problem. And with those things in mind, if you still think this is a very sad day, ask yourself why. And then tell us.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

On working on Christmas (from the warehouse)

Periodically, a post is written that's timely and brilliant but for whatever reason doesn't get published and ends up tucked away, Ark of the Covenant-like, and forgotten about. (Periodically, this also happens to crappy posts.) Periodically, I choose to bring such posts out into the light for the pleasure of my adoring reader. This is one of those times.

Okay, so apparently, if there's one thing we can't expect our legislators to do, it's legislate when they'd rather be doing something else.
"You can't jam a major arms control treaty right before Christmas," [Senator Jim DeMint] told POLITICO. "What's going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians. They did the same thing last year--they kept everybody here until (Christmas Eve) to force something down everybody's throat. I think Americans are sick of this."

Let's break it down.

You can't jam a major arms control treaty right before Christmas.

Well, for one, obviously you can jam it in there, because they just did. But Amanda at Pandagon points out that "they," in this case, could arguably be the Republicans--they're the ones stalling and filibustering every piece of legislation that passes their desks, forcing everyone to work late into the season to get the important stuff accomplished. That's just poor planning, from where I'm sitting.

This is the most sacred holiday for Christians.

Actually, that's Easter. (I wonder if anyone's asked Eric Cantor how he feels about working on Yom Kippur.)

I think Americans are sick of this.

I don't actually know how many Americans are sick of you working on Christmas Eve. I know that when my dad, a doctor, has to take call Christmas Eve, I get pretty sick of it; I also know that his patients would be pretty sick of him not being available to do his job when needed. I also know that, judging from the fact that my house has electricity and I got milk from that convenience store and firetrucks responded to that chimney fire that time, other Americans also are working on Christmas Eve, although maybe they're not as important as you because they're not… as important, I guess. Or whatever.*

I also know that a lot of Americans are sick of our elected officials finding any excuse available to avoid doing the one job we hire them to do.

The angel said, "On earth peace, good will toward men." Like a nuclear arms treaty. Less with the whining, more with the legislating. Then 'nog.

*Other people who have worked on Christmas: George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Apollo 8 crew, priests, soup kitchens, my great-grandmother, Santa. Not working Christmas Day: German and British troops during the Christmas Truce of 1914. Peace on earth.

On feeling free to tell

Okay, so I know I'm late to the game, but I wanted to congratulate the country on the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. It's encouraging to know that this is where we've come--our elected officials, frequently so much more conservative than their constituents and less willing to rock the boat (or mine are, at least) have made a surprising stand against discrimination in the name of both fairness and reason. America's gay soldiers, airmen, and Marines no longer have to worry about the potential consequences for simply serving their country. The entire nation can enjoy stronger security knowing that some of our top troops are no longer being booted out because of their sexual orientations. And I know this is kind of flowery and optimistic on my part, but I like thinking that with every decision like this, the U.S. becomes a little freer and a little more accepting, and kids growing up in it (and, for that matter, adults who are increasingly open to change) will be better off than the ones who had to grow up in an environment of ignorance and fear.

I do have other commentary on the subject, but that's for later--I wanted to save this post for sincere congratulations on a happy, promising occasion. Mazel, mazel. Good things.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

On auld acquaintance (should I have been forgot, and if that's the case, I really can't blame you)

Okay, so my regular reader knows I don't do New Year's resolutions, because I think the turning over of a new calendar page is a fairly arbitrary reason for making significant life changes. But the beginning of a new year--or even a new month, for that matter--is a great time to get back to blogging, particularly blogging on a regular basis. There's so much going on in the world right now that my months-long absence is simply inexcusable. So keep your eyes peeled for content--not today, of course, because it's late and I still have a gut full of pork roast/turnip greens/black-eyed peas to digest, not to mention a few circulatory systems' worth of champagne to sleep off. (And it's the good shit,* too, thanks to a certain friend of mine who's generous enough to share.) But I'll stop neglecting my blog, and you, the two or three of you who still bother to check from time to time.

Happy New Year, best of health and luck, and I'll see you in a few.

*See? There goes my resolution to swear less.